Physical training interventions for children and teenagers affected by acute lymphoblastic leukemia and related treatment impairments

Carolina Simioni, Giorgio Zauli, Alberto M. Martelli, Marco Vitale, Simona Ultimo, Daniela Milani and Luca M. Neri _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:17199-17209. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.24762

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Carolina Simioni1, Giorgio Zauli1, Alberto M. Martelli2, Marco Vitale3,4, Simona Ultimo1, Daniela Milani1 and Luca M. Neri1

1Department of Morphology, Surgery and Experimental Medicine, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

2Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

3Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy

4CoreLab, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Parma, Parma, Italy

Correspondence to:

Luca M. Neri, email: luca.neri@unife.it

Keywords: acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL); cancer treatments; childhood; physical assessment tests; physical exercise

Received: January 05, 2018     Accepted: February 25, 2018     Published: March 30, 2018


A decreased physical fitness has been reported in patients and survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). This is influenced by the negative effects of the disease and by the treatments of childhood cancer.

In the past, children were advised to recover in bed, and to take as much relax as possible. Nowadays, it is considered that too much immobility may result in a further decrease of physical fitness and functioning. Exercise training for ALL children has frequently been reported to improve physical fitness and the well-being of the children, since it prevents the negative effects of a sedentary life-style, such as obesity and a poor skeletal health. In recent years, different studies and protocols on this subject has become available for children and young adults with cancer, both during and after treatment.

The efficacy of recent physical exercise training interventions, that act on several ALL impairments in children such as skeletal, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular systems, fatigue, body balance disorders and metabolism alterations have been examined.

These side effects might be prevented or significantly reduced by introducing a physical exercise program during or shortly after cancer treatment. Several interventions are discussed and presented for each impairment, reducing their level caused by the disease and thus suggesting the importance of physical training activity in ameliorating the children quality of life.

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